From the beginning of Fate Zero, it has been established that Emiya Kiritsugu is a merciless cold-blooded killer. He had a conflicted stoic personality with a wish in his mind, of attaining eternal peace. He does everything to realise his goals whether it be committing villainous acts or killing a magus ruthlessly. Hesitation doesn’t beat the bush around him.
But after he was proclaimed as the winner of the Holy Grail War, Kiritsugu was unable to wish for what he wanted. Furthermore, he rejected the Holy Grail and spent all his leftover command seals to make his servant Saber destroy the omnipotent device with her Noble Phantasm. What made him do that?
Why did Kiritsugu reject the grail?
Emiya Kiritsugu rejected the holy grail because he realized that it was corrupted. It’s method of granting Kiritsugu’s wish would have negated his goal of saving lives. In short, the grail interpreted any wish of the owner with nothing else than destruction and then granted it.
You see, Holy Grail never was an omniscient or an omnipotent wish-granting device. The grail was corrupted from the consequences of the previous war and was built upon lies throughout the years. Moreover, it also had some level of sentient, sort of freewill in it. But to fully embrace the senses and feelings, it needed someone, a host, a vessel. That lesser vessel was a homunculus from the Einzbern family – Irisviel.
So when Kiritsugu went into the Grail, he saw his wife there talking to him on behalf of the device. But in actuality, it was the Grail itself talking to him. After getting the gist of everything that was going on, he finally asks the Grail to fulfil his wish. A wish of world peace where all the people lived happily and contented. As mentioned before, the Grail was formed upon several lies and half baked truths over the years. It made everyone believe that it was able to grant any kind of wish to the one who is declared as the winner of the war.
Here’s the part where the untold truths come into the picture. While the Grail had the power to fulfil a wish of the person, the method to achieve it should be within the understanding of the one who wants the wish. It interprets the user’s understanding that how they want their dreams to be granted. The why’s and what’s about the methods they did when it mattered and the principles they were following while committing every action.
And the only method Kiritsugu knew, the only understanding he had gathered through the years, the only principle he abided all along was ‘to save the many, a few sacrifices are to be made‘. The Grail grasped the fundamentals and showed him the only way, his way of attaining what he had desired – through the chaos.
The several scenarios of two ships where an uneven number of hostages were present in both of them were being played by the device. Both the majority and minority were in danger. And every time, Kiritsugu tends to save the majority. There were moments when he started hesitating. But the device never faltered to show what he truly wanted, what he truly wished for. That is, to always save the many in any presented situation. In the end, he’s left with his family, just what he wished for, eternal peace.
The eventuality he was presented with portrays the inner workings of his utmost desires and hopes. Kiritsugu never knew how to save people without sacrificing a few and the Grail showed him the end result, if he followed the path of redemption, it will only lead to the end of everything he ever cared for.
Little did he knew that the Grail was interpreting his previous acts as a means to the making of a more perfect world according to his perception of reality and people.
Progressively killing a smaller number of people to save the larger one.
To make it more sophisticated, the Grail tried to lure him through showing the family he deeply cared for and tried to make his vision a truth. These events led him to a realisation that his whole ideology was flawed from the beginning. His means of ending conflict was nothing but a mere fantasy and the Grail would twist any wish to bring forth disaster and destruction. And that was the reason he outrightly rejected it and ordered Saber to destroy it.
For a man who has lived all his life on one principle, it’s extremely disheartening to digest the fact that he was unable to redeem for himself and was proved as a flawed hero of justice in his eyes.
Do you think Kiritsugu was justified in destroying the holy grail. Could he have come up with a better way to wish for world peace? Let us know your opinions in the comments section!